WatchSonoma Watch

Funding OK could extend SMART to airport


A commuter rail station could be built near the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport if a regional transportation panel allocates the funding today.

A Metropolitan Transportation Commission committee will decide on the $16.7 million request from Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board.

SmartOn Monday, the Sonoma County Transportation Authority allocated $4.3 million for the project, which would extend the commuter rail service four miles north to Airport Boulevard when it opens in two years.

“Our board is interested in the last segment to Airport Boulevard,” said James Cameron, SCTA deputy director.

If the MTC Programming and Allocations Committee recommends funding the project, the full commission would have to vote on it next week, said John Goodwin, MTC spokesman. It is “highly unusual” for the commission to vote against a committee recommendation, he said.

“Once it passes the committee, it’s first and goal at the one,” he said.

The MTC approved $11.7 million for the project in January, and its action today would allocate that money plus an additional $5 million. MTC funds come from bridge tolls.

“There are a lot of moving parts to this,” said Carolyn Glendening, SMART spokeswoman. “We’re hopeful the committee will approve the request.”

With the funding in place, the SMART board could approve an airport station at its meeting next week, officials said.

A station near the airport would serve Sonoma County travelers, especially once a project to expand the runway to accommodate larger jets is completed next year.

Officials hope that project will attract more commercial airlines with flights to eastern destinations. The airport currently serves Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego.

SMART trains are scheduled to run in 2016 between Guerneville Road in Santa Rosa and San Rafael. The rail authority has some of the funding in place to extend the track south to the Larkspur ferry. Eventually, the line is planned to run north to Cloverdale, although the funding for that segment and its timing is uncertain.

“Consistent with the board’s direction, we are actively looking at funding to go north and south,” Glendening said. “(The airport) is an interesting location for a station. This would get us farther north.”

Last month, the SMART board awarded Shimmick Construction of Oakland a $68 million contract that includes building an operations and maintenance facility on a 5-acre parcel at the intersection of Airport Boulevard and the railroad tracks.

Officials would like to build a station adjacent to the facility, about a mile from the passenger terminal at the airport. A shuttle would likely be required to ferry passengers from the train to the airport.

In a letter to the MTC, state Sen. Noreen Evens, D-Santa Rosa, lobbied for funding for the airport extension.

“Connecting the North Bay by rail transit to the Sonoma County Airport and the employment center in the area surrounding the airport continues to be critically important to the economic health of the region,” she wrote.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com.

4 Responses to “Funding OK could extend SMART to airport”

  1. Steveguy says:

    I must go on- The definition of ” near” has been abused here. By a long shot. I guess that the SMART folks think that if they keep repeating false statements we will start to believe them.

    The station will be ‘near’ like Downtown Santa Rosa is to the Junior College. I know as I have walked it a few times, with luggage. On purpose both times to have a walk after long flights, otherwise I take the bus or cab for the few miles. I will measure the miles soon, for a fun fact for y’all.

    Everything SMART puts out has a tinge of smell to it. I blame the bike people for buying their lies, therefore this debacle.

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  2. Steveguy says:

    It is a bit of a walk to get to the Airport, or the many businesses in the area. ‘Near’ the airport is a stretch. Best public transit to the airport is the 62 bus, not a train. It will be close to where I live, but have no use for it myself.

    The new Sutter Hospital is being forced to have a shuttle bus from the Guerneville Road station, so I imagine we will have another ‘required’ shuttle bus for the Airport Blvd station. These shuttle buses can be expensive to run with such a limited ridership.

    Ohhh, and the MTC is giving us bridge tolls paid for by others ? Yes, the Richmond Bridge is used some, but that is the only one. The MTC is taking ‘free money’ from toll payers. It seems corrupt to me.

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  3. Show Me The Money says:

    Until real passenger airplanes start servicing the Santa Rosa Airport, no smart train stop is needed. Save the money for the roads. Those little puddle jumpers from Alaska are too uncomfortable, slow and take much too long with all of their landings and transfers to get somewhere.

    Oakland is a much better deal and much cheaper.

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  4. Elephant says:

    More spin by DUMB. Look for them in 2016 (or sooner) to put up a ballot measure to steal an additional 1/4% of our sales tax money to pay for this white mastodon.

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